At the Los Angeles Motor Show, Lexus might not have had a showy low-slung concept car to salivate over, but it did give its fans something they’ve been wanting for a while now - and a car that it, arguably, needed in its line-up.
Despite being quite a large SUV, the Lexus RX has always only offered a maximum of 5 seats. Wanting room for 7 occupants while keeping loyal to the Japanese premium marque meant shelling out a lot more for the behemoth-level LX 570. Enter the RX L.
Their mid-size SUV has now been given a length extension that, along with its much less swooping roofline, can finally provide enough room for two additional passengers in the third row along with a decent amount of room left over cargo (Lexus claims it to be class-leading in that respect).
The wheelbase itself remains static, but Lexus has added an additional 110mm in rear overhang to accommodate the enlarged cabin. It’s not a perfect solution, especially when considering that the rear-most seats are positioned lower than the row ahead, severely limiting visibility for those not particularly tall. The rather small windows behind the C-pillar probably don’t help alleviate the sense of claustrophobia, either.
Other luxury 7-seaters such as the Land Rover Discovery, get around this by generally having a taller roofline as well as a stepped arrangement of seats, with each row’s H-point being taller than the last similar to a cinema or amphitheatre. At least the extra passenger will have their own climate controlled zone.
Apart from these changes, this is very much the same Lexus RX that we’re familiar with, with identical styling up front and a cabin that, as evidenced from these pictures, is expectedly well finished with plenty of leather, wood, and a near unparalleled attention to build quality.
Optional is a 835W, 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system and an new-generation of infotainment systems that measure 12.3-inches in its largest guise. Curtain airbags are provided for all rows and a full suite of active safety features are provided as well.
Upon its unveil, Lexus detailed the newly elongated RX with a choice of two engines starting with the 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 with 220kW and 357Nm to power the RX 350L while the RX 450hL is propelled by that same engine, albeit supplemented by three electric motors for a total output of 229kW and much more frugal urban driving.
Large-ish to large 7-seater SUVs are indeed a popular category for North American buyers, where the most popular options remain the Toyota Highlander (that’s Kluger down here), Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Ford Explorer.
Only time will tell if Lexus can woo buyers Stateside away from some purpose-built and less expensive 7-seaters such the Mazda CX-9, and even so, there’s still the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS to consider. But in America, there’s still the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator to consider.